Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Terrence A. Tollefson

Committee Members

James C. Mills, Louise L. MacKay, Russell O. Mays


Art has been used for centuries as a healing tool for adults and children; however, the use of art therapy in schools is a recent development. Art therapy, encompassing art, psychology, and therapy, is by nature interdisciplinary. Art experiences provided to students at risk of failing or dropping out of school may offer non-verbal communication that can be used effectively to satisfy a variety of developmental, social, or emotional needs. The purpose of this qualitative study was to develop a curriculum-based art experiences model, combining the skills of art teachers and school counselors. Data were collected through a focus group consisting of seven art teachers and five school counselors representing the eight elementary schools in Johnson City, Tennessee.

These elementary school specialists agreed that at-risk students could benefit from the use of art experiences that were suggested in the study. Four major issues were discussed regarding the mechanics of the proposed alliances of art teachers and school counselors: (a) identification of at-risk students, (b) the opportunity for collaborative time, (c) pulling at-risk students out of self-contained classrooms for art experiences, and (d) the additional space needed for consistency of the art experiences.

Some suggested strategies for specific issues in the focus group were as follows: (a) to establish a clear method for identifying at-risk students, (b) to manage time schedules to allow opportunities for collaboration, (c) to organize in-service opportunities for the self-contained classroom teachers, and (d) to seek out in each participating school an appropriate area for use by the art teacher and school counselor.

The results of this study suggested that collaboration of two elementary school specialists, an art teacher, and a school counselor in each school, could provide therapeutic art experiences for children identified as being at risk. Consequently, I have concluded that my proposed curriculum-based model could be adopted by almost any elementary school that has an art teacher and a school counselor without requiring any additional personnel.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.